Wednesday, May 24, 2006

'Spoiled Brat' College Graduates

Rich Lowry says it well at National Review Online, about the embarrassing spectacle of college graduates who can't endure words from someone they don't like, saying things they don't agree with:

"What a bargain: At a cost of a mere $100,000 or so, a northeastern college can take your child and transform him into a delicate flower incapable of handling opinions at odds with his own. It can close his mind and vacuum-seal it against opposing views. And it can, as a bonus, perhaps make him rude and incorrigible."

He cites several instances; one I didn't see in his column occurred at the University of St. Thomas, where a student was treated shamefully, including by the college administration for the terrible offense of disapproving of sex outside of marriage and contraception, in a talk contrasting selfishness and selflessness. The president of this Catholic-affiliated university, lamented the young man's comments, and accepted an apology that came swiftly. No word on whether both the young man's arms are broken from twisting, or merely one. Here's the story on that one.

Here's my letter to the president of the University of St. Thomas:

Dear Father Dease:

I read about the speech Mr. Kessler gave at your commencement, I listened to a (faily lengthy) exerpt of it via "You Tube," and read your comments at your web site.

Please explain to me: what does Mr. Kessler have to apologize for? I heard him reflect authentic Catholic teaching, as he contrasted selfishness and selflessness. It did not seem to me that he went a
centemeter beyond Catholic teaching, nor did he venture into any area that is in dispute.

Since when is controversy in speeches at commencement something surprising or upsetting?

You said: "I had hoped that he would focus on the accomplishments of his fellow graduates and challenge them to continue their efforts 'to advance the common good,' as our mission statement urges."

Well, perhaps he could have said more about the former; but do you really dispute that his comments pertained to the "common good" -- and as such, were indeed a "challenge"? Or did you mean, a challenge
that was less challenging?

Alexander Solznitzyn said, "what strange times these are, when a statement of basic moral truth becomes an act of great courage!" What strange times indeed; especially that a young man courageously proclaims the Gospel at a Catholic University, and the University
considers that offensive.

Perhaps there is something I am missing.

Very truly yours,

Father Martin Fox
St. Boniface Parish,
Piqua Ohio


Anonymous said...


My only question: how dare Mr. Kessler insinuate that these kinds of statements warrant an apology? He really should have stuck to his guns, IMHO.

(p.s. We’ve linked you at our blog.)

(p.p.s. If you haven’t sent the letter yet, check your spelling of “centimeter”.)

Fr Martin Fox said...

I made more than one spelling error, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

A least this commencement speaker is a college graduate unlike Lance Armstrong, Billy Joel, Ellen Degeneres (sp?)and Sheryl Crow (who actually have LESS than one college semester between them).

Just another paradox that is St. Paul, MN.

It seems that St. Paul has a number of "JP II priests" what it needs is a B16 Bishop!

Anonymous said...

I've commented at my site so I won't belabor it here.

It's just sad. Mr. Kessler is a young victim. He was a good witness and had the world come down on him for his witness. If the Rev. Dease had stood by him (or the trustees like the local Bishop or the president of Notre 'the Va**na Monologues' Dame) had come to say this man proclaims the faith, it would have been much different. Then again, so would the world.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great letter Father!!!

Very powerfully written!

Gregaria said...

Thanks, Father.

Terry said...

John 15:18-20:
If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

I don't know which disappoints me more: this young man's apology, or the fact that this is typical at many Catholic-affiliated (nice distinction Father Fox) institutions these days. It reminds me of an essay recently written by a Notre Dame alumnus who stated he passed up opportunities at Stanford and the Ivy League to get a more meaningful, ie Catholic education and graduated feeling more estranged from his faith than ever.